December 30, 2012

Why You Shouldn’t Be So Freaked Out About Your Future

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Thought Catalog Flickr
Thought Catalog Flickr

You’re scared of the future. Admit it. You always have been. In middle school, you were scared of all your friends going to different high schools and never speaking to each other again. (You were right. Living in a different school district spelled death for many tween friendships but you survived it, didn’t you?) In high school, you were fearful of college, of moving away and adjusting to ‘adult life” (LOL at you for thinking college resembled anything close to adult. At best, it was a very expensive summer camp that lasted for four years!) but then, would you believe it, you did that too. You stuck it out, never dropped out, never buckled under the pressure. Your future quickly became your present and you didn’t run away screaming.

Now you’re scared of what exactly? Your friends marrying and leaving you behind, of once a month catch up lunches with someone you used to call your best friend, of not finding somebody to love you in time and missing out on these so-called important life changes, of being the only one in the room who wants another drink, of getting fired and being taken back to the dreaded feeling of post grad unemployment, of your limbs failing you, of your anxiety keeping you frozen, of never feeling enough pride in your answer when someone asks you “What do you do for a living?” at a party?

Yes, okay, I see your point. Those are valid fears. Those would be things that keep you up at night. But here’s something to consider the next time your fears lead to insomnia and your brain becomes a personal torture chamber: all of those fears you had in the past, those “vintage” anxieties that kept you up in 2004, where are they now?

That’s right, they’re gone. You killed all of them. You got over it. You lived.

I’ve never been a Zen type of person. Quite the opposite, actually. I’m always thinking far ahead, planning and taking the necessary steps that will lead me to where I need to go. It’s a hellish way to live because you’re incapable of enjoying anything in the moment and are, in a way, permanently dissatisfied.

“Where you need to go.” Think about what that even means. It indicates a discontent with your present life, a desire for something else. But, honestly, the kinds of people who are always talking about “where they need to go” are the ones who will never be happy with anything in their life. There will always be another high to reach, a new destination to go to. And if that’s the case, if you can’t even enjoy things as they’re happening to you, what the hell is the point of even existing? You’re never going to sit back one day and be like, “Yup. This is exactly where I need to be. I’m done searching now.” Life will always be about needing that unattainable something else in order to complete the puzzle. It’s a crutch, an excuse to be unhappy and not go after what you want. “I’ll have time to date when this happens, I’ll be better and happier when I can move out of this apartment’ blah blah blah. Stop fooling yourself. Your misery is not circumstantial, it’s a permanent state of being.

The best gift you could give to yourself is perspective and the ability to enjoy today without worrying about tomorrow. Take your anxieties on bit by bit, thus making everything more manageable, and realize that your future is not out to murder you. It’s not a shadowy ghost figure wielding a chainsaw.

Besides, the only way you can ensure having a good future is by living a good present. That’s it. That’s the secret to getting exactly what you want out of life. So start paying attention to what’s going on around you. Otherwise, you might miss everything and give yourself a real reason to be unhappy. TC Mark

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